8 Writing Things I’ve Learned From 10 Years of Blogging

I’ve been writing here for 10 years now. I almost can’t believe it.

The days are long but the years are short. So much has changed in my life — I got married, moved, made two big career shifts, and just entered my 40s last week.

I’ll write a more general article about life lessons soon, but for today, I’d like to look back on my journey of writing online. A reflection.

Here’s eight of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned.

1. Write for Yourself, but Let Feedback Guide You

When I started, I thought I could write about a variety of topics — including relationships, career, and health.

Over time, I’ve become most well known for my money-related articles.

That’s okay. For whatever reason, God gave me the ability and interest to love numbers. Not too deep that I’d become a quant trader. But deep enough that I could learn powerful truths about money and share them with others.

It recently clicked for me that most people get confused and intimidated by personal finance stuff. Meanwhile, it feels natural to me.

I like the concept of Ikigai — finding the sweet spot between what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and (hopefully) what you can be paid for.

It takes time, but feedback from the world (your readers, your loved ones, your colleagues) gives you hints about what to focus on. Listen to that feedback. And don’t fight your nature.

2. Content Will Always Be King

This applies if you’d like many people to read your work.

Even a decade ago, OG bloggers were telling me that most blogging “tactics” — what blog template, what font, what time to post your content — don’t really matter.

Of course, I never listened. I spent way too much time optimizing all of the above.

What really matters is content. How good is the writing? How useful or relatable is it? Did it touch someone’s life?

Yes, in today’s Internet, you’ll still need good ways of distribution — like writing natively on social media (instead of sending links to your website) — to get it in front of as many eyes as possible. But even without too much effort, if your work is good enough, distribution will find a way.

Short term “tactics” will always distract. But great content will always get shared.

3. Writing Will Enrich Your Life in Unexpected Ways

Did blogging make me money? Yes and no.

Yes, mr-stingy is sustainable today because of affiliate fees — me recommending products I believe in. It’s enough to cover all the hosting and software costs.

No, because it’s not serious money. Not compared to my professional career. Admittedly, I haven’t focused on monetization — I can’t imagine having ads here, and I’m skeptical of the “How I make money online >> buy my course” flywheel.

The deeper answer: writing enriched my life in ways I never expected:

  • It opened the door to my current fulltime job. My employers found me because I’d been blogging about crypto.
  • I sometimes get invited and paid to speak at events.
  • Practicing writing made me a better thinker, communicator, employee and manager. I can count three promotions across two different industries in the last decade.

I also have plans to write a book within the next two years — if you buy it I’d be very happy. 😊

4. To Evolve Is To Be Human

Do anything long enough and you’ll have to evolve.

10 years ago, personal blogs — you know, where you share pics of lunch — were still a thing. Today, IG stories are so much better for that. Video content has also taken over the Internet, and everyone seems to have a 6-second attention span.

My writing has also evolved.

Part of this is age. I’m no longer a young man who thinks he knows a lot of things. Now a middle-aged man who’s experienced some things and has reflections to share.

I’ve also experimented with video, but don’t think it’s for me. Happy to appear as a guest, but I still love the written word. If everyone else is shifting to video, let me be the traditionalist who’ll stick to a classic art.

We spoke a bit about how money is “my topic.” Yes, but I don’t want to write “How to budget” articles anymore. That was from a different stage of life. Instead, I want to write deeper thoughts about the intersection of money and life. What is money but a tool to make our lives better?

Speaking about tools, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a great companion. I don’t use it to write per se, but it’s been great for research, bouncing ideas and getting feedback. Should a writer be worried that one day AI will replace us all?

I don’t think so. Perhaps AI will commoditize many types of writing. But it’ll never have the heart of a human-written piece.

5. How To Find Your People Online (And Yourself)

It’ll always be scary, but put yourself out there when you write. Be honest. Authentic. Eventually, you’ll attract people who believe in the same things.

You’ll attract your fair share of haters too. As someone who hates conflict, I can still remember the first time someone sent me a mean comment. It felt like a panic attack, but thankfully I had friends to calm me down.

Understand you can’t be something to everyone. Most people will politely ignore what you have to say — including family and friends. Meanwhile, some stranger on the Internet will love it. Others will hate. If you want to be loved, you must accept that others will hate you.

Part of maturing online is realizing those comments can’t actually hurt you. If you draw boundaries. Why should you accept hurtful words from random anon who’s probably spent <5% of the time you have studying the topic?

There’s a saying that if what you wrote years ago doesn’t make you cringe, you haven’t grown. Indeed, when I look back at some of my early articles — 😐 too emo, too long, too immature.

Accept that it’s all part of growing up and maturing. Writing will help you find friends online. But mostly, it’ll help you find a better version of yourself.

6. You Don’t Need Millions To Make It

A part of me once hoped I could be famous. I looked up to world-class bloggers and dreamed of having millions of readers like them.

It’s good to start with huge ambitions. For inspiration. Otherwise how would you start anything?

But how do you manage when you fall short of your goals?

One way is to consider if the initial goals are still useful. So if I never reach millions of readers after years, but have thousands — would it change my desire to write? Would I still find it meaningful? Shift the goalposts if necessary.

I don’t have the exact quote, but I believe it was author William Gibson who compared the Internet to Tokyo — a huge, sprawling, chaotic city, with uncountable back alleys filled with all kinds of tiny specialized shops.

Very few of us will ever run the Internet equivalent of the Imperial Palace — the most popular destination. But running your own thing in your corner of the Internet is pretty damn rewarding too.

I can’t remember every email and comment now. But my favorite type will always be if my writing has helped you in some way.

7. The Real Treasure Is the Friends You Make Along the Way

If the Internet is a huge city, my space is somewhere quiet. Not in the central business district; perhaps in a working-class suburb.

I can’t help but think about my trip to the UK last year — visiting London, Manchester and Liverpool. There were many polite people — but nothing could compare to the kindness of the elderly man on the bus — who made sure we got off at the right stop at Anfield, Liverpool FC’s stadium. And went out of his way to show us how to get home.

Maybe this is part of what makes the Internet, and life special. Small, kind interactions between strangers who might never meet again.

And yet, if you’re lucky enough, sometimes strangers can even turn into friends. So privileged to have made friends from all over the world — just by sharing my thoughts.

I don’t say this often enough, but thank you for being here.

8. For Longevity, It Has To Come From Deep Inside You

How did I keep it going for 10 years? I’ll forever be grateful to you, dear reader, but if it was purely external motivation, I’d have given up long ago. Honestly, if I stopped writing tomorrow, I don’t think too many people would miss mr-stingy. It’s obviously not for the money either.

Yet, unlike many things in my life, I’ve never seriously thought about giving up.

You won’t persevere for so long without internal motivation.

As for me, I just wanted to create something of my own. Art I could be proud of. To contribute back to the Internet in my own small way. 10 years in, I’m so glad I did it.

So in conclusion, I’ll quote something I wrote for my third anniversary, seven years ago. So long ago now, yet these words remain true:

But at the end, the only way I can keep going is telling myself I did everything in my power to write well. That I practiced my craft to the absolute best of my abilities.

Then even if my life is spent polishing dirty rocks; only to discover most of the hundreds I produce are actually dull stones, and only have one or two sparkling gems — that would be okay.

I know I can’t be the sun anymore. Maybe not even a star. But I know I can polish things until they could possibly reflect a little bit of sunlight.

Today, I will practice my craft again. I will try to live a worthy life. I will polish. And maybe this blog will live on for another year.

– – –

Pic from Pexels: NO NAME

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  • The last few sentences made me tear up a bit (I’m a writer too and still trying to find my own voice)

    Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts all these years Aaron.

    • Hi Ristina,

      Thanks for dropping by and your kind words. Wishing you all the very best in your own writing journey and may we all make progress in finding our voices.

      Take care!

  • Have been following your blog for quite sometime. Can see that your blog and its content have evolve. A lot of interesting concepts and ideas. Hope you will continue blogging.Good luck.

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